Report: NHL wants answer on Canada border crossing soon

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FILE PHOTO: NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Dallas Stars at Tampa Bay Lightning

The NHL has asked the Canadian government for a decision by June 1 about U.S. teams crossing the border during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, ESPN reported Friday.

The Canadian teams played only each other during the 2020-21 season in a revamped North Division because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that will continue during the first two rounds of the playoffs. It's what happens after that -- in the semifinals and finals -- that is up in the air.

"The conversations are ongoing. We've told them we really do need to know by the end of the first round, and that's around June 1," Steve Mayer, the league's chief content officer, told ESPN. "That's pretty much the date that we've talked to them about, saying we have to know one way or another."

Last season, the playoffs were held in bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto.

Under current rules, American-based teams couldn't play in Canada without mandatory quarantines, which would make travel for home-and-away games impossible under the playoff calendar.

The NHL and government representatives last talked a week ago, and the Canadian officials submitted a variety of questions for the league's response.

In the interim, Mayer said, the league has discussed the possibility of the Canadian team that advances from the North Division being based in the U.S. for the duration of the postseason. Talks have occurred with officials at NHL arenas where teams didn't qualify for the playoffs.

An NHL source told ESPN this week that the league expects "a positive resolution" to the issue, however.

--Field Level Media